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Air pollution is considered one of the most pressing environmental and health issues across OECD countries and beyond. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and ground-level ozone (O3) have potentially the most significant adverse effects on health compared to other pollutants. PM2.5 can be inhaled and cause serious health problems including both respiratory and cardiovascular disease, having its most severe effects on children and elderly people. Exposure to PM2.5 has been shown to considerably increase the risk of heart disease and stroke in particular. For these reasons, population exposure to (outdoor or ambient) PM2.5 has been identified as an OECD Green Growth headline indicator. Exposure to ground-level ozone (O3) has serious consequences for human health, contributing to, or triggering, respiratory diseases. These include breathing problems, asthma and reduced lung function (WHO, 2016; Brauer et al., 2016). Ozone exposure is highest in emission-dense countries with warm and sunny summers. The most important determinants are background atmospheric chemistry, climate, anthropogenic and biogenic emissions of ozone precursors such as volatile organic compounds, and the ratios between different emitted chemicals.
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